The main challenge in the agricultural sector in Colombia is how to generate opportunities for sustainable development towards the reduction of land-based greenhouse gases emissions, conserving forest, and restoring degraded areas in Colombia. Agroforestry systems improve climate change adaptation and mitigation by promoting agricultural crop diversification and land restoration, increasing water availability in the soil, and increasing carbon sequestration. While the environmental benefits of cocoa in agroforestry systems in terms of diversification and productivity are well documented, the relation between cocoa land-use change and the GHG mitigation potential is unclear.
The objective of this study is to identify the main hotspots of GHG emissions in cocoa cropping systems in agricultural frontier areas and determine the role of organic cocoa cropping system as an alternative to reduce GHG emissions and press on forest in agricultural frontier areas in Colombia.
For this, the present study aims to quantify the GHG emission in the cocoa cropping systems in two departments in Colombia, Caqueta, and Cesar, being contrasting in environmental and socio-economic conditions. The GHG inventory includes the evaluation of two critical emission sources, land-use change and use of fertilizers in different farm typologies, including traditional, organic, and intensive cropping systems. Using remote sensing was identified the relation between cocoa establishment and deforestation, therefore GHG emissions for land-use change. Using the static chamber methodology were quantified the GHG emissions from the application of synthetic and organic fertilizers from the soil. In the framework of the Life Cycle Assessment, the carbon footprint of the system was evaluated using data collected in 950 farms in both departments obtaining a detailed quantification of all activities, processes, as well as input and output flows of both production systems.
Our preliminary results show that in some areas of Caquetá there are encroachment cropping systems in which, the primary or secondary forest is intervened for the implementation of new cocoa areas. Preliminary results show the mitigation potential of organic fertilization, reducing the emissions of N2O. Based on our results, we do not discourage cocoa production in the agricultural frontier, but raise questions on adequate land planning in agricultural frontier areas, as well as on the need for tying production to zero-deforestation commitments and compensating the aggregate environmental and social benefits when promoting more sustainable cacao production systems.
Carbon footprint, land-use change, organic agriculture, mitigation potential